Mount Shasta man growing mullet again to fundraise for tiny house village in Chico
Mount Shasta's "mullet man" is back to do the ‘do again to raise money to help homeless people in need of mental health services.
Asaf Vaknin, 33, is growing his mullet in March — $100 in donations per day — to cover costs for himself and other volunteers while they build the Chico Housing Action Team's tiny village.
He wants Mullet March to "put the fun in fundraiser," said Vaknin, two weeks into wearing the classic hairdo: Locks long in the back and cut short on the front, sides and top.
This is his second time sporting the 1980s look for charity.
Vaknin launched the first Facebook fundraiser on Feb. 26, 2019 to help pay for himself and other volunteers go to Chico to build shelters for homeless people displaced by the Camp Fire. “I wanted to be able to say to friends, ‘I’ll fund your food and your gas if you’ll join me,'" he said.
At that time, he hoped to raise $10 per day or a total of $310. Instead he raised $1,500, committing him to make the most of his mullet through April 2019.
Vaknin skipped his Mullet March fundraiser in 2020 and 2021 to “let his hair grow out” after he cut it in April 2019.
This year, his hair is long enough to make a serious mullet, he said.
“He brings so much great energy and enthusiasm" to the tiny house project, Chico Housing Action Team executive director Leslie Johnson said of Vaknin. “He brings great people who work hard and get a lot done.”
As of Friday afternoon, Vaknin's Facebook fundraiser had $2,790 of the $3,100 in donations he hopes to get. People who donate $35 or more can get a Mullet March shirt while supplies last.
Confident he'll earn the rest, he plans to reach out to bed and breakfast inns in Chico, hoping to find someone who will offer housing discounts to the volunteers.
Chico Housing Action Team's mission includes providing housing to people in crisis, according to the organization's website. It also helps them connect with needed services, to get groceries and to learn life skills.
Any money left after he and other volunteers help build the homes goes directly to Chico Housing Action Team, Vaknin said.
North State volunteers to build a village
Vaknin and other volunteers will head to Butte County in April to help refit 10 pre-made sheds into sleeping cabins.
Each tiny cabin will have heating and cooling units, a toilet, a small refrigerator, a bed, a table and a chair, Johnson said.
The cabins will be installed at the future site of a tiny village — county-owned property within the city limits at 540 Cohaset Road in Chico, she said. When completed, the village will have 20 cabins, temporarily housing people with severe mental health problems. There will also be a larger community kitchen, a meeting area, a laundry and showers.
“It’s a major problem for people who are homeless to stay on a mental health program,” Johnson said. They often don’t have transportation to services, and they’re at risk of having their belongings stolen. The tiny village will be built next to existing behavioral health offices, so residents will be within walking distance to services, and social workers will come to the shelter.
By the time it’s finished, the project will cost about a $1 million, most going toward infrastructure, she said. “The most challenging thing is putting in the infrastructure: The water, the sewer, electricity, and build the road.”
The Chico Housing Action Team has the permits to move forward, and is buying supplies as donations come in.
Organizers hope to welcome the tiny village’s first residents in July.
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Meanwhile, Vaknin's retro hairstyle is getting a lot of positive attention, he said.
“I don’t think people really think the haircut looks good. They just say, ‘Wow! You really went for it.’"
Vaknin’s future plans include recruiting others to grow mullets.
“Whether you’re male or female, you can wear it. You can be brave and bold,” he said. The problem is you’ll have cut your hair short after March to get rid of the mullet.
Cutting off his own mullet means it’s time for Mohawk May, Vaknin said — but that’s not to raise money: “By May, I’ve squeezed my friends as much as I can. It’s just for fun.”
To see photo documentation of Vaknin’s Mullet March fundraiser or to donate, go to bit.ly/3t1MPn2.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.